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CFPB Order against Pressler & Pressler and New Century

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 25, 2016

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CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU TAKES ACTION TO HALT ILLEGAL DEBT COLLECTION PRACTICES BY LAWSUIT MILL AND DEBT BUYER
CFPB Bars Law Firm, Debt Buyer from Churning Out Illegal Collections Lawsuits and Imposes $2.5 Million in Penalties

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today ordered the debt collection law firm Pressler & Pressler, LLP, two principal partners, and New Century Financial Services, Inc., a debt buyer, to stop churning out unfair and deceptive debt collection lawsuits based on flimsy or nonexistent evidence. The consent orders bar the companies and individuals from illegal practices that can deceive or intimidate consumers, such as filing lawsuits without determining if debts in question are valid. The orders also require the firm and the named partners to pay $1 million, and New Century to pay $1.5 million to the Bureau’s Civil Penalty Fund.

“For years, Pressler & Pressler churned out one lawsuit after another to collect debts for New Century that were not verified and might not exist,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Debt collectors that file lawsuits with no regard for their validity break the law and violate the public trust. We will continue to take action to protect borrowers from abuse."

Pressler & Pressler is a New Jersey-based law firm that collects consumers’ debts for creditors through lawsuits and other means. New Century Financial Services, also based in New Jersey, buys and collects defaulted consumer debts and hands off those accounts to Pressler & Pressler for collection. To collect alleged debts on behalf of New Century and others, Pressler & Pressler filed hundreds of thousands of lawsuits against consumers.  Sheldon H. Pressler and Gerard J. Felt, partners of the firm, each participated in the firm’s debt collection litigation practices.

The CFPB found that to mass-produce these lawsuits, Pressler & Pressler used an automated claim-preparation system and non-attorney support staff to determine which consumers to sue. Attorneys generally spent less than a few minutes, sometimes less than 30 seconds, reviewing each case before initiating a lawsuit. This process allowed the firm to generate and file hundreds of thousands of lawsuits against consumers in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania between 2009 and 2014. The CFPB found that the respondents violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits unfair and deceptive acts or practices in the consumer financial marketplace. Specifically, the CFPB found that Pressler & Pressler, the firm’s named partners, and New Century Financial Services:

  • Made false or empty allegations about consumer debts: The CFPB found that the firm, the named partners, and New Century filed lawsuits against consumers without sufficient basis. Neither the firm nor New Century reviewed documents supporting the validity of debts.
  • Filed lawsuits based on unreliable or false information: Some consumers had previously challenged the validity or accuracy of the debts, but the firm or New Century did not obtain or review information to justify their claims. The firm and New Century also filed suits and collected debt knowing that some account portfolios targeted for lawsuits contained unreliable or false information.
  • Harassed consumers with unsubstantiated court filings: The CFPB found that the firm, the named partners, and New Century filed collection suits generated mainly by automated processes that relied on summary data. The firm won the vast majority of the lawsuits by default when consumers did not defend themselves, even though neither Pressler & Pressler nor New Century had verified that the debts were actually owed.

Enforcement Action
Under the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB has the authority to take action against institutions or individuals that engage in unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices. The CFPB also has authority over debt collection practices under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The CFPB orders require that Pressler & Pressler, the firm’s named partners, and New Century Financial Services must:

  • Stop filing lawsuits with unsubstantiated claims: Pressler & Pressler, the named partners, and New Century cannot file lawsuits or threaten to sue to collect debts unless they obtain and review specific account-level documents and information showing the debt is accurate and enforceable.
  • Ensure accurate court filings: The firm, the named partners, and New Century may not use affidavits as evidence to collect debts unless they accurately describe relevant facts including that the individual executing the affidavit has personal knowledge of the debt, or, if not, has reviewed documentation related to the debt. The firm must also keep an electronic record showing it is following proper procedures.
  • Pay civil penalties: The firm and the named partners must pay a penalty of $1 million to the CFPB’s Civil Penalty Fund. New Century must pay a penalty of $1.5 million.

The CFPB’s order against Pressler & Pressler and the named partners is available at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/201604_cfpb_consent-order-pressler-pressler-llp-sheldon-h-pressler-and-gerard-j-felt.pdf

The CFPB’s order against New Century Financial Services is available at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/documents/201604_cfpb_consent-order_new-century-financial-services-inc.pdf

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Hello,

I found out that I had a judgment against me when I received paperwork from my local sheriff's office for the wage garnishment.  I was never served - although they showed a picture of the front of my last 2 residences claiming that they'd served people that live with me in both locations on the same day ( I have lived alone for 7 years). I went to court to block this action as I had no knowledge of the action taken against me.  It took 5 trips to the other side of the county and roughly $300 in filing fees.  I don't have spare money and they were taking 10% of my gross pay.  The judgment was for roughly $1800.

I proved that I had no foreknowledge of the judgment and the  judge that heard me put them back to square one.  I thought that I'd blocked the judgment as I had no outstanding debt.  I had closed all of my credit cards 6 years earlier by taking out a consolidation loan and the loan had long been paid off.  As I had done all of this to escape a bad living arrangement, when I paid off the loan I moved quickly without taking any of the documentation I didn't believe I would ever need.  They got a second judgment against me and since a lawyer would cost the amount of the judgment, I decided to struggle by until it was paid off.

I now have 2 questions.

1. I didn't qualify for any legal help.  Is it too late to go back and fight this?

2. They put the judgment on my credit twice and although it has been paid off I only have release papers for one of them and the first one still shows as an active debt, adversely affecting my credit.  They have ignored my email requests to have this removed.  What can I do?

 

Thank you for any answers.
Barbara

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@Barbara Anne this was due to the parties mentioned in the CFPB order? Were you ever served for the other judgment? New York is pretty strict about debt collection practices, so if they didn't follow every step as required, vacating may be an option.

You may want to start a new thread to get more attention for your post. There's also a post judgment forum here.

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I was never served either time.  They claimed that I had been but that it was done through others that lived with me while I was living alone.  I'll look at the post judgment forum. Thank you.

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@Barbara Anne sounds like sewer service which would be a reason to vacate the judgment. Follow the detail here, scrolling down to Asking the Court to Vacate a Default Judgment- https://www.nycourts.gov/courthelp/AfterCourt/vacatingDefault.shtml

Also, contact the NY Atty General office about the sewer service and go to the CFPB to file a complaint against the Plaintiff.

http://www.ag.ny.gov/contact-attorney-general

http://www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/

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